Posted by: Hannah | 11/02/2014

in which i clean all the things

You know how some days you wake up and you’re all “TODAY I WILL MOVE MOUNTAINS” and nothing and no one stands in the way of your sudden and alarming productivity?

That was me today, which is truly weird, because it pissed down rain all day. Normally a rainy Sunday in November would be a recipe for me wasting hours curled up on the couch with a book… or Twitter… or video games… but instead I was somehow infected with a desire to finally Deal With This Shit.

Some days you clean a few things and it’s just enough to keep the children from getting typhoid, and even that feels like a major accomplishment and you dare anyone to argue with you.

Other days you are a machine, and you tackle jobs that you’ve been putting off for weeks months maybe years too goddamn long. You do things like scrubbing the carpet that the dog lays on even though it is right next to his bed, dog, would it kill you to move two feet so you drool on the dog bed not the carpet. You finally get all the cooking grease and horribleness off the tile backsplash around the stovetop. You clean all the fingerprints off the kitchen cupboard doors. You go through the piles of dusty bottles on the bathroom shelf and find over-the-counter medicines dating back to 2010, when you re-did the bathroom and installed the bloody shelf in the first place. In between you do laundry and dishes and you roast a turkey so comically large that you need to take out one of the oven racks just to make it fit, a turkey you bought a month ago at 99-cents a pound. You feel a little bad because the turkey is clearly a factory-raised thing with breasts the size of Dolly Parton’s, but on the other hand NINETY-NINE CENTS A POUND. You sort two weeks’ worth of recycling and pack away the Halloween decorations until next year. You do all this fueled by a witches’ brew of very strong coffee and tiny Caramilk bars.

By 8:30 when the oldest child finally gives in and goes to bed, you are exhausted. The house smells clean, and you have a sense of accomplishment, but you can also now see the bits that you didn’t get to. Things like the giant pile of random detritus that gathers on top of the microwave. Or the mess inside the same microwave, which you didn’t notice at breakfast but which horrifies and disgusts you a mere twelve hours later.


I read for a while once the kids were asleep. I finally caved in and got a smartphone last summer, and once I figured out that I could borrow ebooks from the library and read them on my phone like a goddamn wizard I was suddenly the happiest I’ve been in a long time. (Seriously, people. A LIBRARY IN YOUR POCKET. Have you ever actually stopped and thought about that?) Anyway, in a nod to Halloween I’ve been borrowing the few Stephen King books I don’t own and re-reading them. I’m working my way through the short story collection Skeleton Crew right now and while I generally think his short story anthologies are some of his best writing, I’m not sure about this one. Some of the stories are downright terrifying, others just go for the gross-out, others are weirdly unsatisfying.

I find it interesting to compare this to his more recent works. Anyone who can’t see that he’s grown and developed as a writer just isn’t paying attention. It’s inspiring, actually. Keep practicing, keep writing, keep trying and succeeding or failing, and you just can’t help but get better, right?






  1. Really it’s best just to never, ever look on top of the microwave.

    Congrats on your marathon day of cleaning. I need a day like that sometime soon, too!

    • I have no choice, it’s right slap in the middle of kitchen. Definitely going to deal with THAT hot mess this afternoon. And for some reason the productivity continues – today I sorted three bins of mittens, hats, scarves, etc., matched up all the pairs and got rid of all the singles. Turns out I don’t need to buy any more stuff for this winter!

  2. Congrats to you on getting shit done! I need a day (or ten) like that.

    On Halloween, the local NPR station played an interview with Stephen King. One of the things they talked about is whether his writing changed after his serious car accident. The audio file and a partial transcript are here if you’re interested:

    • Ooh, thank you for that link! Going to listen this evening. 🙂

  3. I haven’t had a getting shit done day in quite awhile and it’s kind of killing me. Now both of my kids are involved in soccer – Oldest in a competitive league that is STILL GOING ON and Youngest doing a smaller thing but also doing a climbing class – my weekends have mostly been a frantic roller coaster of just trying to keep body and soul together. I am SO OVER sports right now. Oldest has one more week of practice and one more game this week and then he has a break until early December and H and I are so done that we debated last night whether it was possible for us to just not go to the final game. We need to buck up and be there, but damn, I really want a free Saturday afternoon.

  4. I am down with all that cleaning. God, it’s so satisfying to get that really deep I-am-scrubbing-the-baseboards-don’t-talk-to-me cleaning binge. I’ve been doing one big declutter a week. I just take one area – right now it’s my childhood boxes of terror – and go for it. It’s made an enormous difference in my life.

  5. I subtracted points from this post for calling a day on the couch with a book a ‘waste of time’, but added them back for using the word ‘detritus’. 🙂

    I have been decluttering one area at a time – cookbook cabinet, coffee table, stair landing – which is both satisfying and demoralizing, because it barely makes a dent. My husband did a massive garage-clear-out the other day, which has been YEARS in the making, and then asked if he could do something else or if that would delay dinner and I was like, GO, DO IT – because I totally get that when the mood strikes, nothing must stand in its way. Go you.

  6. Loving the library in a pocket thought. When I discovered that I could download a free Kindle app and then download a crazy amount of free books from Amazon, I got a little carried away.

  7. I could really, really use a burst of productivity. I can’t remember the last time when I didn’t feel completely unable to do the simplest thing.

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